Of all the prisoner of war escapes that almost were, the one involving the Colditz
glider is certainly among the most ingenious. Built secretly in an attic of Colditz
castle, the glider was an airworthy craft, as clearly demonstrated by the replica
featured in the NOVA program "Nazi Prison Escape."
Many believe that, had the war
not ended when it did, two POWs would have stood a decent chance at making a successful flight.
(Whether they would have gotten away once they landed is another matter. For the challenges of
making a clean getaway, see Escaping Colditz.)
Building the Colditz Glider
Fashioning a flyable, two-person glider out of scavenged materials was no small feat. Find out how it was done.
So what keeps a flying machine in the air? Here's an explanation that describes how wings produce lift.
Note: The primary source for "Airfoil Aerodynamics" and "Fly the Glider" is Stick and Rudder by Wolfgang Langewiesche. Although this book was originally published in 1944, its explanations still hold up today.